Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day USA!!

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I have never been shy about my pride in being a citizen of The United States of America. Our country is certainly not perfect, but it is structured in such a way that we can all work together, even when our views differ, to come closer and closer to being a nation that truly does provide liberty and justice for all.

We would not be a nation today had it not been for a small group of men coming together in 1776 for the purpose of declaring independence. Most of us in the US can recite these famous words of The Declaration of Independence:


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

But have you ever read the entire Declaration? I fear for most of us, that answer is "No." Or we read it so very long ago in school that we don't even remember. There is a sadness, I think, in being unfamiliar with the document that was responsible for launching the founding of our country.

So, I encourage you and your family and friends, and especially any children who are with you today, to take 15 minutes out of your festivities and watch the video below. Morgan Freeman's introduction to a dramatic reading of the Declaration is nearly as moving as the words of the document itself.

Make an effort. I think you'll be glad you did. Happy Independence Day!




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All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

So I'm Taking a MOOC...

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Under a Creative Commons License

Late last week I was innocently checking my Twitter feed, and I saw an announcement for a MOOC called Foundations of Virtual Instruction.  I clicked to investigate, and I was immediately intrigued for several reasons.


  • The course is aimed at learning about K-12 online instruction, which I'm interested in knowing more about.
  • The course is offered through Coursera, a known online learning platform which I have heard and read good things about.
  • The course is offered by an existing higher education institution, the University of California at Irvine.
  • The course lasts five weeks and requires two to four hours of work per week. Perfect for summer learning, especially since I work through the summer.
  • The course is taught by an instructor who has experience in teaching online in K-12. (You can watch the video on the course info page to learn more about her.)
  • I can take the course for FREE, but for a small fee I can also earn a verified certificate that proves I have completed the coursework. (More about this below.)

So, I found out about this course late last week and made the decision to jump in and sign up a couple of days before the course started on June 30th.

My Experience So Far
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I will sum up my experience so far with the sophisticated phrase: "It's been really cool!"

Here is what I have liked:
  • The course syllabus clearly communicates what is expected and how the course grade will be calculated.
  • The video lectures are professionally created and presented in short chunks and are interactive! During the videos, pauses are built in which ask you to type in a short answer or to answer a multiple choice question based on what you are learning. I don't know if data is kept on these questions, but they are excellent for giving the learner an opportunity to reflect on what they are learning.
  • I have the option to earn a verified certificate for a small fee. I signed up for the verified certificate trial so I could evaluate the quality of the course and my likelihood of completing it (I've started a couple of MOOCs in the past and not made it through...) before paying any money. 
  • They are serious about the verification thing! I had to take a headshot of myself with my webcam and input a typing sample that would identify me by my unique typing pattern prior to taking the first quiz! Apparently, I will have to do this each time I take or turn in any assignment in the course that is graded. This is more verification than I had to do for the online master's degree I completed four years ago!
  • This course is the first in a set of courses that build upon each other. If I complete all four courses and earn verified certificates for each of them plus complete a capstone project, I can earn a Specialization Certificate from UC Irvine and Coursera. Coursera and its partner organizations currently offer 10 different specializations. It's not the same as college credit, but it is cost effective and shows your current or prospective employer that you are serious about continuously educating yourself.
  • Based on the activity in the discussion forums, there are over 200 people in this course, and they are literally from all over the world! It's fascinating to see all of these people, in some cases to get a piece of their story, and along the way learn from their insights.

The one big challenge for me...

  • Did I mention over 200 people? It may be many, many more than that; there is no official listing of the members of the course that I have found. The discussion boards became overwhelming to me within the first two days. People posting literally all the time from time zones around the world. The discussion boards are not required as far as the grade for the course goes, but they are highly encouraged in order for participants to engage more with the material. I want to engage with others, because I'm that kind of learner. I'm going to have to make peace with the fact that I can't read everyone's contributions, and much like I do on Twitter, I will just catch and interact with a few. I have managed to have more interaction on the "unofficial" open discussion boards which are not based on course content. So hopefully that will continue to be a place for connection.

So far, so good! The positives are definitely outweighing the challenges four days in to the course. Based on my experience thus far, I think Summer 2014 might see me complete my first MOOC. I will keep you posted!

Have you had any experiences with MOOCs? If so, I'd love to hear about it! Please leave a comment below. :-)



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All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Digital Citizenship Chat Preview for June 11, 2014

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Hello everyone! Tonight it's my turn to moderate Digcit Chat, and since the questions require some reflection back on the current school year and looking ahead to the next one, I thought I'd give a preview of the questions. So, if you have time, check them out and get your wheels turning, then join us at 7:00 PM ET / 6:00 PM CT / 5 PM MT / 4 PM PT for an hour of chatting!



Here are the questions for tonight:



  • Q1: What was your biggest win or success regarding #digcit and your Ss and/or fellow Ts this past school year?
  • Q2: What was your biggest challenge regarding #digcit and your Ss and/or fellow Ts this past school year?
  • Q3: What is something you will definitely do again or continue doing regarding #digcit next school year?
  • Q4: What is something new you’d like to try or something you’d like to do differently regarding  #digcit next school year?
  • Q5: How can you continue to promote #digcit among Ss and Ts during the summer?
  • Q6: What topics would you like to see discussed in #digcit chat next school year?



If you've never participated in a Twitter chat before, #digcit is a great chat to start with, as it usually has a manageable number of chatters. A Beginner's Guide to Twitter Chats will give you a nice overview of what to expect.

Basically, get on Twitter a couple of minutes before the chat starts, search for the #digcit hashtag, and then respond to the Tweets you see with that tag for the next hour! Another tool you might want to try is TweetChat, a website which makes it easy to focus just on the Tweets from the chat you are participating in.

Hope to see many faces old and new in tonight's chat!





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All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.
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